I work in the tallest building in Delaware County. It is seven stories. From the lunch room one can see the Delaware River. At this point it is only about twenty feet across, although it goes on to become the 34th largest river in the US. Across the river one can a tiny hut, or observational post. It is green, hectagonal, and approximately 6 feet in diameter. For about a week I've been trying to figure out what it is, or was, used for.
I talked to the mayor Dave Truscott. He said, "It was built in the 1930s by the WPA. It is a water gauge, or it housed a water gauge. It was originally meant to study the Cannonsville Reservoir which was built just after WWII. This water gauge worked by having a tube go down through its concrete base into the river. A rubber ball floated on the water on the top of the tube, registering highs and lows in water flow. A machine registered the variations with a needle on a graph. Every month the paper was taken out, and studied."
Truscott has been in town most of his life and he knows just about everything. He is a retired mathematician who once worked at SUNY-Delhi. A slim, silver-haired gentleman, who walks tirelessly around the village, arranging flowers, talking with people, keeping the town in shape.
"There are nails in the water gauge house's door, but you can get to it through Smith Pond Park, and look inside if you want. It would be a good project to go there with your kids and have a look inside. The Americorp group refurbished it recently. It's got a new roof and windows."
Truscott had still more information, but I had to get to my 9:30 Mythology class and I had only fifteen more minutes to walk across town to the classroom. I hurried through town, and arrived at the class at 9:29, and began talking about Antigone, and the notion of Sophocles that our fate is determined not by ourselves, but by the gods, and therefore there are things beyond us that remain mysteries, and will always remain mysteries.
However, the water gauge is no longer one of those mysteries. It is a tiny hut, or observational post, that belonged to the DEC, for purposes of river observation. It was closed down in the 1980s. A newer one with a digital recorder is now over by Fitch's bridge. The newer one has a solar panel on the roof, which provides it with electricity.
Truscott waved goodbye after giving me the information. I said goodbye. He said, "Hey, you can put all that into one of your poems!" I thought about this, but prefer prose for this project. Poetry is about mysteries. Prose is an exploration of fact.